Are You Living in the Leadership Loop?

Leaders, by definition (if not practice) have followers. Leaders find, recruit, and train followers for specific tasks. While this is an important task in any organization, a leader who can only lead followers is limited. To make it to the next level of leadership, a leader must be able to lead other leaders – those alongside them.

Leading peers is a unique challenge, no matter what organization a leader is part of. A highly competent leader who is seen – rightly or wrongly – to have considerable influence with his boss is often at a disadvantage when it comes to peer-to-peer relationships.

To succeed at leading alongside your peers, you must work at giving your colleagues reasons to respect and follow you. You do that by helping them win, and in doing so, you will not only help your organization but you will also help yourself.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The 360° Leader, John Maxwell

Don’t wait for that promotion! Start leading NOW…right where you are!

What’s the number one question leadership expert John C. Maxwell is asked while conducting his leadership conferences? “How can I implement what you teach when I’m not the top leader?” Is it possible to lead well when you’re not the top dog? How about if the person you work for is a bad leader? The answer is a resounding yes!

Welcome to The 360° Leader. People who desire to lead from the middle of organizations face unique challenges. And they are often held back by myths that prevent them from developing their influence. Dr. Maxwell, one of the globe’s most trusted leadership mentors, debunks the myths, shows you how to overcome the challenges, and teaches you the skills you need to become a 360° leader.

If you have found yourself trying to lead from the middle of the organization, as the vast majority of professionals do, then you need Maxwell’s insights. You have a unique opportunity to exercise influence in all directions—up (to the boss), across (among your peers), and down (to those you lead). The good news is that your influence is greater than you know.

Practice the disciplines of 360° leadership and the opportunities will be endless . . . for your organization, for your career, and for your life.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The middle of an organization is a great place to practice and build your skills while at the same time extending your influence in all directions. Leaders above you recognize your contributions to the greater organization. Followers below you are grateful for your leadership and influence in developing them.

However, people who find it difficult to lead alongside their peers are often individuals who don’t excel at building relationships. More so than leading up or down, developing and deepening relationships with your peers is critical to your success in leading alongside them.

If you want to gain influence and credibility with people working alongside you, then don’t try to take a shortcut or cheat the process. Instead, learn to understand, practice, and complete the leadership loop with them.

Take a look at the following graphic, which will give you an idea of what the leadership loop looks like:

You can see that it’s a cycle that starts with caring and ends with succeeding.

  1. Caring – Taking an Interest in People

You have to show people that you care about them by taking an interest in them. People always move toward someone who increases them and away from anyone who decreased them.

  1. Learning – Get to Know People

Take time to talk to your peers in the organization. Ask to hear their stories. Try to discover their best skills. Ask for their opinions on work-related issues. And as much as you can, try to put yourself in their shoes.

  1. Appreciating – Respect People

We should strive to see others’ unique experiences and skills as a resource and try to learn from them. If you treat your peers with this kind of respect, appreciating them for who they are, then they will be more likely to respect and listen to you in return.

  1. Contributing – Add Value to People

Few things increase the credibility of leader ore than adding value to the people around them. When you go out of your way to add value to your peers, they understand that you really want them to when with no hidden agenda of your own.

  1. Verbalizing – Affirm People

Few things build people up like affirmation. When you affirm people, you make firm within them the things you see about them. If you want to influence your peers, become their best cheerleader.

  1. Leading – Influence People

The things you’ve done up to know have served to build your relationship with them, give you credibility, and display that your motives are good. With that kind of history, you will have earned the opportunity to influence them.

  1. Succeeding – Win With People

Great leaders don’t use people so that they can win. They lead people so that they all can win together. The wonderful thing about helping others succeed is that it earns you more opportunities to help an even greater number of people.

If you help others succeed, additional people will come into your life whom you will have an opportunity to help succeed, and the cycle will start over again.

John C. Maxwell, The 360° Leader

A NEXT STEP

Draw the leadership loop pictured above, and post it in a visible, but out-of-the-way place in your office or work area as a reminder.

Create a matrix on a spreadsheet listing your peer’s names in a horizontal column, and the seven leadership loop actions in a horizontal row across the top.

Over the next month, review the seven actions above on a daily basis, and intentionally schedule and follow through on these actions each day with your peers. At the end of each day, make a brief note in the respective place what action you have taken with each of your peers.

At the end of the week, review your progress, and consider how you will continue and improve in the next week.

At the end of the month, call your team together and debrief your experiment with them.

  • Ask them at what point they realized you were doing something differently.
  • Ask them what they thought about your actions.
  • Encourage them to express what it felt to them as an individual.
  • Ask them if they, in turn, began to do some of the same things with others.
  • Discuss with the group how the actions you took increased the relationships of the team.
  • Challenge your peers to work through the leadership loop in a similar manner.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 79-2, issued November 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

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Create an Inner Circle to Help Develop Your Leadership

It has been said that the people close to us determine our level of success. Moses learned this lesson in the wilderness and so implemented a plan to put competent, godly leaders next to him. David had his mighty men. Paul had Barnabas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, and Phoebe.

When ministers decide to be leaders, they cross a very important line. They no longer judge themselves solely by what they can do themselves; the truest measure of the impact of a leader is found in what those around them accomplish. In God’s economy, our personal development happens most as we are developing those He has called around us.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Developing the Leaders Around You, by John Maxwell

Why do some people achieve great personal success, yet never succeed in building a business or making an impact in their organization? John C. Maxwell knows the answer. “The greatest leadership principle that I have ever learned in over twenty-five years of leadership,” says Maxwell, “is that those closest to the leader will determine the success level of that leader.”

It’s not enough for a leader to have vision, energy, drive, and conviction. If you want to see your dream come to fruition, you must learn how to develop the leaders around you. Whether you’re the leader of a non-profit organization, small business, or Fortune 500 company, Developing the Leaders Around You can help you to take others to the limits of their potential and your organization to a whole new level.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

There are no Lone Ranger leaders. If you’re alone, you’re not leading anybody. Think of any highly effective leader, and you will find someone surrounded by a strong inner circle. Hire the best staff you can find, develop them as much as you can, and hand off everything you possibly can to them. When you have the right staff potential skyrockets. You see, every leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to him. If those people are strong, then the leader can make a huge impact. If they are weak, he can’t.

Most leaders have followers around them. They believe the key to leadership is gaining more followers. Few leaders surround themselves with other leaders, but the ones who do bring great value to their organizations. And in the process, their burden is lightened and their vision is carried out and enlarged.

An inner circle of leaders becomes a sounding board to me. As a leader, I sometimes hear counsel that I don’t want to hear but need to hear. That’s the advantage of having leaders around you – having people who know how to make decisions. Followers tell you what you want to hear. Leaders tell you what you need to hear.

I have always encouraged those closest to me to give advice on the front end. In other words, an opinion before a decision has potential value. An opinion after the decision has been made is worthless.

Leaders around you possess a leadership mindset. Fellow leaders do more than work with the leader, they think like the leader. It gives them the power to lighten the load. This becomes invaluable in areas such as decision-making, brainstorming, and providing security and direction to others.

John Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You

 A NEXT STEP

The following list of characteristics has been adapted from study material in John Maxwell’s Leadership Bible. The author developed the acrostic below for use when developing an inner circle.

On a chart table, spell the word “Inner Circle” down the left hand side of the page. After reading the following qualities, write down the name or names of individuals you know who exhibit those characteristics.

Influential – Everything begins with influence. If you want to extend your reach, you must attract and lead other leaders.

Networking – Who people know is just as important as what they know.

Nurturing – People who care about each other take care of each other. Your inner circle should prop you up.

Empowering – The members of your inner circle should enable you to achieve more than you could alone.

Resourceful – Inner-circle members should always add value.

Character-driven – The character of an inner-circle member matters more than any other quality.

Intuitive – While every person is naturally intuitive in his area of gifting, that doesn’t mean everyone uses his or her intuition.

Responsible – Those closest to you should never leave you hanging. If you ask them to carry the ball, they must follow through.

Competent – You can’t get anything done if your people can’t do their jobs. You don’t need world-class performers exclusively, but all of your inner-circle people must perform with excellence.

Loyal – Loyalty alone does not make people candidates for your inner circle, but lack of loyalty definitely disqualifies them. Don’t keep anyone close to you whom you cannot trust.

Energetic – Energy covers a multitude of mistakes, for it helps a person to keep coming back, failure after failure.

After you evaluate this list, ask yourself:

  • “How can I sharpen these characteristics?”
  • “With whom has God given me influence for this season?”
  • “Who on this list can teach me and inform my leadership?”

Now identify 2-3 members of your inner circle and commit to spend at least three hours over the next three months developing them with intentional conversations, observation, and measurable goal setting.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 44-1, published July 2016.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

At Their Service

Ask yourself daily:

What did I specifically do today to be “of service” to members of my group or team? Was I truly a “servant” to them?

Robert Greenleaf, writing in the classic Servant Leadership challenges leaders to be servants. To help leaders understand the concept, he had two “exam” questions that leaders should ask concerning the people on their teams:

  1. Do those served grow as persons?
  2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?

 

Tom Peters translates these questions as follows:

  1. Leaders exist to serve their people. Period.
  2. A team well served by its leader will be inclined to pursue Excellence.

Use the word “Serve.” (That’s what you do.)

Use the word “Service.” (That’s what you provide.)

Use the word “Servant.” (That’s what you are.)

 

John Maxwell, writing about the Law of Addition:

When you think of servanthood, do you envision it as an activity performed by relatively low-skilled people at the bottom of the flow chart? If you do, you have a wrong impression. People are drawn toward those who serve them sacrificially, not repelled by them. It’s about attitude.

Leaders seek ways they can add value to others, and the primary way they do it is by serving them. In John 13, the Savior of the world exhibited that He was also the greatest Servant of all time. In a powerful object lesson of servanthood, Jesus stripped down to a garment around his waist, looking the part of a servant. He took a basin of water and a bowl and began washing his disciples’ feet.

Christlike Servant-Leaders

  1. Are motivated by love to serve others (vv. 1,2)
  2. Possess a security that allows them to serve others (v. 3)
  3. Initiate servant-leadership to others (vv. 4-5)
  4. Receive servant-ministry from others (vv. 6, 7)
  5. Want nothing to hinder their relationship with God (vv. 8, 9)
  6. Teach servanthood by their example (vv. 12, 15)
  7. Live a blessed life (vv. 16, 17)

When leaders serve, they add value to the people who receive their service. It might be something as simple as feeling special; it could be a resource we give others or a word of encouragement. Whatever it is, people always receive something and feel better about themselves because of their leader.

Leaders should add value to everyone they serve. Seek to replenish and resource them to live the higher life God has called them to.

Jesus served – should you do any less?

 

Activity is Not Necessarily Accomplishment

Deep in the countryside of Tuscany, there is an olive grower who makes exceptional olive oil. When asked why it was so good, he simply said:

“There are two reasons – When I pick and what I pick. Nothing else matters.”

He begins his harvest in September, when common sense suggests that your trees should be left alone. In September, the olives are green and hard. Most people pick in late November or December.

“Ten to twelve weeks later, the olives are swollen and full of juice. The more juice you get, the more oil you can bottle, the more money you make. But for me, that olive is bloated – pulpy and full of water. As a result, the oil is thin. You have volume, but no intensity. For me, intensity is everything. For me, less is more. My oil is very, very intense.”

Reading this story from Heat, by Bill Buford, I am reminded of John Maxwell’s Law of Priorities:

Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul advises us to:

  • Analyze our lifestyles (5:15)
  • Utilize the present (5:16)
  • Prioritize what is important (5:17)

Every leader, every day, gets the same amount of time.

Not every leader gets the same results.

Priority = intensity

Focus on the Ultimate to Make Your Vision Sharp

What does it take to gain the focus required to become a truly effective leader?

The Apostle Paul had absolute focus on his mission – a focus that enabled him to let go of everything that was not critical to his mission. In Philippians 3:5-9, Paul willingly discarded his heritage, his lineage, his former legalism, and his past zeal in order to advance his mission.

Paul’s focus was so sharp that he discarded everything he once counted gain. But he goes beyond that: he counted everything as garbage for the sake of obtaining Christ.

Leaders who want to change the world need to have this same kind of sharp focus. The keys are priorities and concentration. A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do, but never gets it done. A leader with concentration but no priorities has excellence without progress. But when leaders harness both, they gain the potential to achieve great things.

John Maxwell, writing in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader says that leaders base their decisions on a variety of things:

  • The Ultimate – First things first
  • The Urgent – Loud things first
  • The Unpleasant – Hard things first
  • The Unfinished – Last things first
  • The Unfulfilling – Dull things first

Paul exemplifies a leader who focused on the ultimate every day. How about you? To get back on track with your focus, work on these items:

  • Work on yourself: you are your greatest asset or worst liability
  • Work on your priorities: fight for the important ones
  • Work in your strengths: you can reach your potential if you do
  • Work with your colleagues: you can’t be effective alone

Focus on the ultimate, and your vision will become sharper.

 

inspired by and adapted from The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

The Influence of a Father: Servanthood

The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests, and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price.

–  Eugene B. Habecker

 My father was born in 1927 into a rural family, the youngest of six children. It was the eve of the Great Depression, and he was helping out on the farm from an early age. As soon as he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. After his discharge, he came back to Tennessee and built a gas station, which he operated for 44 years. His life was that of hard work, long hours, and low pay.

When you think of servanthood, do you envision it as an activity performed by relatively low-skilled people at the bottom of the positional totem pole? If you do, you have a wrong impression.

Servanthood is not about position or skill – it’s about attitude.

What does it mean to embody the quality of servanthood? John Maxwell thinks a true servant leader:

  1. Puts others ahead of his own agenda
  2. Possesses the confidence to serve
  3. Initiates service to others
  4. Is not position-conscious
  5. Serves out of love

All week long I have been reflecting on the life of my father by looking at some of his character qualities including passion and integrity. This final post is a look at servanthood, and that quality, among all others, epitomized my father.

My father would not describe himself as a leader, but he was. He led quietly – to the high school boys who worked for him over the course of four decades, to the customers who came to him looking for more than just gasoline, to the church he loved and served all of his life. He was a servant leader.

Good leaders do good things. Their lives matter. Servant leaders do great things. They help others’ lives to matter by serving them. Servant leadership is great leadership.

If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest.

H. D. Adams

08/09/1927 – 02/25/2012

He made a living by what he got; he made a life by what he gave.

reflections following my father’s death two years ago, and revisited now as my mother begins a major transition in her lifestyle

Do You Have a Magnetic Personality?

Careful about that… 

Some people just naturally draw others to them. What’s it take to be magnetic? John Maxwell suggests these characteristics as displayed in the life of Peter:

  • Confidence – Peter displayed poise and optimism as a communicator
  • Conviction – Peter knew where he was going and what he had to say
  • Connection – Peter focused not on himself but on others
  • Compassion – Peter exuded warmth and love

When Peter ended his message in Acts 2, everyone asked “What shall we do?” They felt motivated and ready to act. God used Peter’s charisma like a magnet.

Just remember that magnets have the unique properties to both attract and repel!

Over in 1 Kings 19, Ahab and Jezebel demonstrated some roadblocks to attracting people. Characteristics like:

  • Pride
  • Insecurity
  • Moodiness
  • Selfishness
  • Perfectionism
  • Cynicism

If you exhibit characteristics like these very long, you will find yourself repelling people from you.

I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly the type of magnetic personality you were thinking of.